Drumbeat: December 28, 2012

Peak oil group presses EIA to temper optimistic crude outlook

Washington (Platts) - In a first-ever meeting, peak oil proponents met with the US Energy Information Administration earlier this month to urge the nation's top statistical agency to temper its rosy outlook on future US energy production.

Representatives from The Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas USA (ASPO) met for two hours on December 17 with EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski and EIA staff to discuss concerns laid out in an October letter. Specifically, the group wanted to learn more about how EIA compiles the data that leads to its projections of US and international crude output and to offer alternative sources of data and expertise to aid in that effort.

Oil Poised for Biggest Weekly Gain Since August

Oil headed for the biggest weekly gain since September in New York as U.S. lawmakers scheduled talks aimed at averting automatic tax increases and spending cuts that threaten the economy of the world’s largest consumer.

West Texas Intermediate climbed as much as 0.7 percent, extending this week’s advance to 2.7 percent. Congressional leaders plan to meet with President Barack Obama today, seeking to resolve a budget impasse before at least $600 billion in fiscal measures take effect on Jan. 1. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced the chamber will meet Dec. 30 for its first Sunday session in more than two years. U.S. stockpiles shrank last week, an industry report showed yesterday.

Brent Oil’s Third Year Over $100 Looms on Supply Risk

Brent crude is poised to trade above $100 a barrel for a third consecutive year in 2013 as tension in the Middle East threatens to disrupt supply and global demand is buoyed by Chinese imports.

Oil will average $110 next year, according to the median of 30 forecasts compiled by Bloomberg, compared with about $111.68 a barrel so far in 2012. Brent is more likely to overshoot the 2013 median than miss it as Iran spars with the west over its nuclear program and the conflict in Syria deepens, Morgan Stanley and UBS AG said.

UK gas edges lower as terminal comes back online

LONDON (Reuters) - British spot gas prices were slightly lower on Friday morning as supplies increased because of a resumption of a terminal at Theddlethorpe after a shutdown, while demand is expected to fall amid mild weather.

LNG exports still iffy, even if they win approval

Once everything in Washington settles down in the new year, the Department of Energy is likely to move fairly quickly to approve export terminals for liquefied natural gas.

However, just because the DOE approves LNG terminals does not mean that a boom in LNG exports will necessarily follow. A recent report commissioned by the DOE actually predicts that there will be very few exports, unless there is a major increase in demand from Asia and no new production in Europe. This scenario would cause prices to increase by $1.09 per thousand cubic feet and the United States would export about 8.4 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Refiners Beating Exxon Join Pipeline Boom for Lost Margin

Refiners from Tesoro Corp. to Phillips 66 that gained as much as 86 percent this year are investing in pipelines for new revenue as margins for turning oil into gasoline narrow from record levels.

Refiners are set to beat all except three of 154 industry groups on the Standard & Poor’s index for 2012, as a U.S. production glut let them buy oil at a record average of $17.46 a barrel below the global benchmark. That spread will diminish in 2013 as more than 20 new pipelines enter service and route oil to new buyers along the Gulf Coast, Deutsche Bank AG forecast.

Iran to relocate airport after discovering oil under the tarmac

Iranian authorities plan to relocate the city of Ahvaz airport after discovering an oil field under the runway.

"The Iranian Oil Ministry will acquire Ahvaz airport and a new airport will be built 15 kilometres from the city," the Director of the Iranian Airports Company Mohammed Rasulnijad told Iranian television İribnews on Friday.

Iran Starts 6-Day Hormuz Strait Drill to Show ‘Readiness’

Iran’s naval forces started a six- day military exercise around the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for 20 percent of the world’s traded oil, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The drill, which covers a large area extending to the Sea of Oman and the north of the Indian Ocean, is aimed at “displaying the readiness of armed and naval forces to defend Iran’s waterway and national interests,” Iranian Navy Commander Habibollah Sayari said today according to IRNA. The exercise will involve testing defensive and missile systems, combat vessels and submarines, Sayari said on Dec. 25.

Re-exports to Iran from UAE drop

Dubai: Re-exports to Iran from the UAE dropped by nearly a third in the first half of 2012, as tighter international sanctions curbed one of the Islamic republic’s key trading relationships, according to UAE officials. The contraction of the re-export trade from Dubai and other emirates in the UAE is a dramatic illustration of how Iran has cut back on consumer goods imports in the face of ever-tighter sanctions, which have led to a sharp drop in oil exports and a collapse in the Iranian currency.

S.Africa suspends Iran imports again in November

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa suspended all imports of crude oil from Iran for a sixth consecutive month in November, data showed on Friday, as Pretoria continued to steer clear of the shipments because of sanctions.

South Africa used to import a quarter of its crude from Iran but has come under Western pressure to cut the shipments as part of sanctions designed to halt Tehran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Turkey to be the least affected country in case of a natural gas shortage

Turkey would be one of the least affected countries as Turkey had its private transfer line, the officials told AA on Friday.

They said that Turkey was still self-sufficient in natural gas within the scope of the existing contracts.

CNOOC : Two new oil fields in South China sea start production

HONG KONG -- CNOOC said that two of its oil field projects in the South China sea have commenced production.

Taiwan to explore oil, gas in South China Sea

The government of Taiwan will be dispatching vessels to explore oil and natural gas resources in the waters around Taiping Island in the South China Sea next year, economic officials said Thursday.

China backs Cambodia's first oil refinery

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia on Friday gave the green light to construction of its first oil refinery, a multi-billion-dollar Chinese-backed project, as the kingdom looks to tap its untouched offshore reserves.

U.S. to Become World’s Top Oil and Gas Producer by 2017

At one point not long ago, the three issues of climate change, energy independence, and peak oil were being effectively used in conjunction to motivate discussion of the need for a domestic green energy industry. And for a while, that is exactly what happened. We have, after all, seen dramatic growth in wind, solar and geothermal energy sources.

But something else happened at the same time, quietly, in the background, when nobody was looking.

America’s fossil fuel industry, particularly oil and gas, compelled by two of these three imperatives, has exploded. We are experiencing an American oil and gas renaissance.

There's no such thing as energy independence in our globalized, fossil-fueled world

Anyone who tells you that energy independence can be achieved based on globally traded commodities such as oil, coal and natural gas is either trying to mislead you or doesn't understand the structure of energy markets. As of 2011 fossil fuels produced 83 percent of the world's energy according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Because fossil fuels can be transported anywhere in the world, producers seek out the highest price unless they are constrained by law or infrastructure from doing so. This means that energy independence for a country is something of an optical illusion when it is based merely on the domestic production of fossil fuels. Here's why:

Journey through the sands of time

The former chairman of the energy and mining giants Royal Dutch Shell and Anglo-American, and a current board member of Saudi Aramco, Sir Mark had flown into town to stoke the embers of Emirati-British business ties with a speech, which he would deliver in another five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Both he and the emirate had changed much since he first set foot on this strip of sand in the 1960s.

E.P.A. Chief Set to Leave; Term Fell Shy of Early Hope

Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other environmental ills but ended with a series of rear-guard actions to defend the agency against challenges from industry, Republicans in Congress and, at times, the Obama White House.
Factbox: EPA chief Lisa Jackson sought to tighten pollution rules
One industry lobbyist labeled her efforts "the most expensive and controversial rules in the agency's history," while many environmental groups complained the measures were not strong enough.

The following is a record of successes and setbacks in Jackson's efforts to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and hazardous air pollutants from large stationary sources and cars.

Jackson Quitting EPA Hands Successor Fracking Fight

Lisa Jackson’s exit as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency leaves her successor to combat global warming and set rules for hydraulic fracturing over the objections of businesses and Republican lawmakers.

Jackson yesterday said she will step down as EPA chief as soon as President Barack Obama begins his second term. During her four years, the 50-year-old chemical engineer issued multibillion dollar rules to cut emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants from power plants, industrial boilers and cement factories. The rules earned praise from health groups, which said Jackson moved to tackle pollution left unaddressed for too long, and criticism from manufacturers and Republicans that they endangered the economic recovery.

The Unfulfilled Promise of ‘Promised Land’

I recently attended a Manhattan screening of “Promised Land,” a new feature film written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski that aims to examine America’s natural gas drilling boom as a case study in “what happens when real people and real money collide,” as Krasinski explained in publicity materials.

The film opens Friday in New York City and Los Angeles and then expands to more theaters in early January. My sense is that it will not satisfy many people — either as a drama or a potential weapon (for either side) in the fight over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the drilling method that has opened vast regions of the country underlain with gas-rich shale to exploitation.

Warm glow of Berlin's 'beautiful' gas streetlights set to fade

Think Beacon Hill in Boston or San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter — but on a much larger scale — and cue the outrage.

But with annual running costs for fuel and maintenance as much as $700 for some lamp models, and carbon dioxide emissions almost ten times that of an equivalent electric light, there are now strong financial and environmental incentives to replace gas with electric alternatives.

After spending $1.88 billion, Southern Co. still faces risks on plant in Kemper County, Miss.

DEKALB, Miss. - In the woods of east Mississippi, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co. is pouring billions of dollars into construction of a power plant that burns coal but would emit less carbon dioxide. It's a response to looming federal limits on carbon emissions as regulators try to curtail global warming.

Each day, as 2,600 construction workers toil away at Plant Ratcliffe in Kemper County, the big bet becomes more expensive. The projected cost is at least $2.8 billion, almost half a billion dollars above original expectations, and some estimates say it will go higher.

Toshiba in Talks to Sell Up to 36% Stake in Westinghouse

Toshiba Corp., the Japanese builder of nuclear reactors, is in talks to sell as much as 36 percent of its Westinghouse Electric atomic-power unit as industry growth slows after last year’s meltdowns in Fukushima.

Mounting Economic Pressure Weighs Heavily on Solar Companies

Solar companies are on sale for a reason. Yes, they are trading at cheap valuations. However, they are really risky companies. Their dependence on government funding, either through large government projects or through government-subsidized private investment, is very dangerous in an era of austerity. Regardless of good intentions, spending on renewable energy gets cut when the going gets tough.

Developers of Wind Farms Run a Race Against the Calendar

All over the country, developers are in a sprint to get new wind farms up and running before Tuesday, when the federal wind production tax credit will disappear like Cinderella’s ball gown. After that, the nation’s wind-farm building will be at a virtual standstill.

The stakes of meeting the deadline are enormous. Wind turbines that are connected to the grid and in commercial service before midnight on New Year’s Eve are entitled to a 2.2 cent tax credit for each kilowatt-hour they generate in their first 10 years, which comes out to about $1 million for a big turbine. As it stands now, those that enter service on Jan. 1 or later are out of luck.

UK close to green energy targets

BRITAIN is on track to hit “ambitious” European targets to source 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to a “renewable energy roadmap” published today by Energy Secretary Ed Davey.

The amount of electricity generated from renewable sources increased by 27 per cent in the year to 31 July, the figures from the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) revealed.

Workers Willing to Make Less to Work for Sustainable Companies

A company's sustainability efforts are becoming so desirable for employees that some are now willing to give up part of their salary to work for one, new research shows.

More than 15 percent of employees in the U.S., U.K. and Germany have taken a pay cut to work for a sustainable company, astudy by consulting firm Bain & Co. found. In addition, more than 30 percent of employees said they were willing to accept a pay cut of at least 5 percent to join a company that's considered a global sustainability leader.

Pig to Table Project: ‘I wanted nothing . . . to go wrong’

The death we want for our animals is the one we want for ourselves: painless, instant, on a day like any other. Our three pigs took seven months to reach slaughter weight , and my husband, Kevin, and I had been thinking about that slaughter for the duration. Painless. Instant. On a day like any other.

We had two choices. We could bring the killing to the pigs or bring the pigs to the killing. Neither choice was ideal.

The one issue food activists should focus on
Ask a dozen food activists what political change they want to see in 2013 and you’ll get a dozen different answers, maybe two dozen: Restrict sodium in packaged foods. Label genetically modified ingredients. End subsidies to big farms.
The variety of responses reflects just how much work still needs to be done as well as the diversity within the ranks of reformers. But it reveals a lack of focus — or, you might say, political maturity — that is likely to doom even the worthiest items on their wish lists.

Depressing,' 'manipulative' portrayals damage hunger work in Africa, Oxfam complains

"In order for people to understand what's happening in Africa, we've also got to tell the good stories, and there has been good news in Africa," said Stocking, who is retiring in the new year after serving with the charity since 2001.

"Otherwise, people just feel put off and (believe) there's nothing that can be done about Africa," she said. "And that's the big worry for us — that people feel it's all hopeless, when it clearly isn't."

The Beginning of the World

I commented in a post at the start of this year that the then-current round of fast-collapse predictions—the same predictions, mind you, that had been retailed at the start of the year before, the year before that, and so on—were not only wrong, as of course they turned out to be, but missed the collapse that was already under way. The same point holds good for the identical predictions that will no doubt be retailed over the next few weeks, insisting that this is the year when the stock market will plunge to zero, the dollar and/or the Euro will lose all their value, the economy will seize up completely and leave the grocery shelves bare, and so on endlessly; or, for that matter, that this is the year when cold fusion or algal biodiesel or some other vaporware technology will save us, or the climate change Kum Ba Ya moment I mentioned earlier will get around to happening, or what have you.

It’s as safe as a bet can be that none of these things will happen in 2013, either. Here again, though, the prophecies in question are not so much wrong as irrelevant. If you’re on a sinking ocean liner and the water’s rising fast belowdecks, it’s not exactly useful to get into heated debates with your fellow passengers about whether the ship is most likely to be vaporized by aliens or eaten by Godzilla. In the same way, it’s a bit late to speculate about how industrial civilization will collapse, or how to prevent it from collapsing, when the collapse is already well under way. What matters at that stage in the game is getting some sense of how the process will unfold, not in some abstract sense but in the uncomfortably specific sense of where you are, with what you have, in the days and weeks and months and years immediately ahead of you; that, and then deciding what you are going to do about it.

A Price Tag for the Gowanus Cleanup

The agency, releasing an updated plan for public comment, is also proposing controls to prevent raw sewage discharges by the city, which have been an ongoing source of contamination.

The worst contamination of the Gowanus however, comes from its past as a major industrial transportation route for paper mills, tanneries, chemical plants and other businesses that operated alongside it. The waterway is polluted with more than a dozen contaminants, including PCBs and heavy metals like mercury, lead and copper.

Despite the heavy contamination and government advisories against fishing, officials say that some residents continue to eat fish from the canal.

‘Untamed Motorization’ Wraps an Indian City in Smog

New Delhi has introduced policies aimed at improving air quality, but the efforts have not been able to keep up with population growth.

Barge companies fear Mississippi River shutdown because of water levels

(CNN) -- As politicians and barge companies express fear of a shutdown or significant disruption, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tackling one of two significant problems presented in the drought-stricken Mississippi River.

The Corps, aware that barge traffic could be disrupted as early as next week because of sharply lower water levels, can't do anything about ice forming in northern portions of the river, impeding adequate water flow.

But it is using contractors to remove rock formations in the river near Thebes, Illinois, to help maintain a 9-foot-deep channel for navigation, said St. Louis District spokesman Mike Petersen. Blasting, one of the removal measures, began December 21.

Time to Confront Climate Change

Enlisting market forces in the fight against global warming by putting a price on carbon — through cap-and-trade or a direct tax — seems out of the question for this Congress. But there are weapons at Mr. Obama’s disposal that do not require Congressional approval and could go a long way to reducing emissions and reasserting America’s global leadership.

Canadians lack trust in some scientists, poll suggests

An online survey of 1,000 people conducted by Nanos Research and released to CBC News, asked respondents how much they trusted scientists quoted in the news on four scientific topics.

When it came to new energy technologies and medicines a sizeable majority of those surveyed said they trusted or somewhat trusted scientists. But respondents were less certain when it came to climate change and genetically modified crops.

Implications of climate change on Indian agriculture: Is it a food or famine situation?

Interactions with the Indian farming community at the grassroots show how agriculture has become increasingly prone to risks, with the weather patterns being highly unpredictable and huge losses incurred at the household level. Slow onset of a drought basically allows for little planning that the farmers can engage in by the time they realise that it may lead to crop failure. The impact on incomes is obvious and the coping measures resorted to are in no way substitutes for provision of a good quality life. In case of floods and heavy intensity rainfall, the losses are immediate with the effects of it continuing over longer time periods. The affect is fall in acreage, productivities in many areas and overall production levels.

Carbon Taxes Make Ireland Even Greener

When the Irish were faced with new environmental taxes, they quickly shifted to greener fuels and cars and began recycling with fervor. Automakers like Mercedes found ways to make powerful cars with an emissions rating as low as tinier Nissans. With less trash, landfills closed. And as fossil fuels became more costly, renewable energy sources became more competitive, allowing Ireland’s wind power industry to thrive.

Even more significantly, revenue from environmental taxes has played a crucial role in helping Ireland reduce a daunting deficit by several billion euros each year.

The three-year-old carbon tax has raised nearly one billion euros ($1.3 billion) over all, including 400 million euros in 2012. That provided the Irish government with 25 percent of the 1.6 billion euros in new tax revenue it needed to narrow its budget gap this year and avert a rise in income tax rates.

Just a quick observation. The EIA operates outside of the peer-reviewed scientific research process.

They can issue reports with little to no provenance and no individual authorship accountability.

The ASPO should suggest to the EIA to publish at least a review article to some peer-reviewed journal.

Or is this entire topic not really science?

In our increasingly science-averse society, good luck!

I like to remind folks that science is a process. If it's got secrets, it isn't science. If you don't show your math, or assumptions, or data or sources, it isn't science. The EIA would have to go to its sources for data; would KSA provide the EIA with full data? Iran? North Dakota?

Next thing people will want economists to follow some scientific protocol. Where would this end?

Fossil fuels are a finite resource.

Money is an infinite resource. It can be created out of nothing so has essentially no constraints. Economics then goes into the category of game theory, which has no general solution.

Isn't it funny how emission spectra emanating from remote galaxies is used to quantify material composition, but to do something much less complex than that on our own planet, using such accepted statistical updates such as Bayesian updating, does not qualify as science?

Is it the bean counting that apparently is not sexy enough?

Well the humor happens when scientific bean counting close to home starts conflicting with its non-scientific competitors. Who's winning back at home these days when science (or facts in general) conflict with imperial hubris or economic necessity, or the weather?

Science isn't sexy when it tells us there are constraints. I bet the EIA won't choose, or allow, science to take place. I agree it would be nice.

One of my first reactions upon hearing about peak oil, via The Oil Drum, was to demand the USGS back up seemingly overly optimistic estimates of remaining oil. Anyone remember that back in 2006 or so? How do those estimates measure up today? I thought if we could just expose those estimates as wrong, then we'd all embrace peak oil and figure it out

Money may be infinite in a fiat system but the quantity of goods and services it can acquired are finite and therefore (the purchasing power of) money implicitly is also finite.

You are right. Purchasing power or what could be bought for the money is what matters. Money is one of the most valuable assets since they easily could be exchanged to other assets.

From 'Refiners Beating Exxon Join Pipeline Boom For Lost Margin' above:

The record $17.46-a-barrel spread to the benchmark should diminish by 66 percent to as low as $6 a barrel in 2013 as more than 20 pipelines go into service, “taking the U.S. crude transportation market from heavily distorted to very efficient in less than 24 months,” Paul Sankey, an analyst with Deutsche Bank in New York, said in a Dec. 19 note to investors.

I assume the spread the article refers to is Brent to WTI, although it could be Gulf Coast LLS to WTI, which is very similar. If Chris Nelder's call on Brent at $105/bbl for 2013 is in the ballpark, that would have WTI at nearly $100/bbl.

It's a good thing we've got all this new supply from tight oil to, you know, keep prices in check.

Is your final comment tongue in cheek? Because really, I think prices are being kept in check. $100 is still CHEAP.

Yeah it was tongue in cheek. If $100/bbl is cheap (and there are indications we can afford up to around $120/bbl), then they were giving the stuff away in 2003 at $30/bbl.

From the discovery of Oil to the early aughts, the price of oil adjusted for inflation was roughly $20/bbl - from there it's jumped to $100/bbl and beyond. The point, however, is that the world as we know it was built on that old price. Parking lots were paved, Disneylands were made, bridges were spanned, poles were propped, wires were strung, ships were steamed, cars were raced, farms were raised, homes were lighted, wars were run, and so on, at $20/bbl.

Today, at $100/bbl, we're all broke, because we can't get it through our heads that all those things are now five times more costly - and still - it's consumed at yet greater dizzying rates as it shall until all the reasonably easily produced oil is all gone - all bought on credit that cannot no matter how hard we wish it be repaid - so that we can experience BAU.

It's said we've used half of all the oil that will ever be found, what's not said as loudly is that we've used half of that (25%) in the last fifteen years. In other words, were it possible, we'd blow through the rest in the next 30 years - but we can't because it'll be be far more difficult to find and un-affordably expensive to produce. I read somewhere once that it'd take 1000 years to produce the rest.

No. We can't afford $120/bbl oil, or $50/bbl oil if it's BAU we want.

Well said, Matt.

It puzzles me that I don't hear more about this. I wonder why people can't see this elephant in the living room. Liquid hydrocarbons (and to a lesser extent coal) are the life blood of our technology, our economy, our world. The products we use that are wholly or partially made from petroleum number in the thousands.

And this stuff has been plentifully available for a century - the century of our most exceptional growth - for a mere $20 a barrel in nominal dollars. And then in about a decade the cost quintuples, the same decade that the economy starts going haywire, and people can't seem to make the connection.


Interesting link - hadn't seen that one before.

Liquid hydrocarbons (and to a lesser extent coal) are the life blood of our technology, our economy, our world.

Indeed. It helps for me to imagine the wells and refineries collectively as the heart, and all the pipelines as the veins/arteries that span the length and breadth of the World, and the end consumers the capillaries where osmosis occurs ... The heart is aging, it beats less forcefully now - the extremities become less strong ...


"Liquid hydrocarbons (and to a lesser extent coal) are the life blood of our technology, our economy, our world."

a.k.a. fossil fuels ...

Ironically they are also the poison civilization is using to bring itself down by bringing down the natural cycles that make life possible.

It seems to be the ultimate dichotomy / conundrum wrapped inside a black box of insanity.

"It takes genius not to see it." - Chomsky

And another article:


"In places where waterfront views once commanded substantial premiums, housing prices have tumbled amid uncertainty about the costs of rebuilding and the dangers of seaside living."

“There’s an opportunity here"... says the local investment banker. No mention in article of government guaranteed property insurance.

In my mind - another example of why we're doomed. Yesterday's example: California teachers' pension money invested in... Bushmaster assault rifle company. The mighty ship of state steams onwards.


with the headline 'New York has pumped money into semiautomatic-rifle plant'

When weapons manufacturing and advanced swindling theory are the only products a state has left, things do get a little odd.

New York also is heavily dependant on an upstate prison complex, which relies on New York City to keep supplied with fodder. Prison Guard union is a powerful lobby. Loves drug laws.

The Planet is warming, more frequent and powerful storms are predicted. Living beside an ocean is obviously a bad idea under the circumstances. At least that was the simple logic I used in 2005 when I was looking for somewhere to live in France. So I moved to Central France, which with hindsight, may not have been far enough.

A major question mark I had back in 2005 regarding the possible European climate, was whether it was going to warm with the rest of the World or become cooler, at least in the short term. The current trend seems to be to the cooler side.

These "costs" or "expenses" of using fossil fuels are not very well hidden. But likewise are not considered in the per barrel "value."

Very late this week, due to the Tuesday holiday...

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 21, 2012 [PDF]

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 15.3 million barrels per day during the week ending December 21, 266 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 90.3 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging over 9.5 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging slightly over 4.9 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged over 8.0 million barrels per day last week, down by 374 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.3 million barrels per day, 294 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 602 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 214 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 0.6 million barrels from the previous week. At 371.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.8 million barrels last week and are well above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.4 million barrels last week but remained below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.4 million barrels last week, but remained well above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 3.0 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 19.0 million barrels per day, up by 1.9 percent from the same period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged over 8.5 million barrels per day, down by 2.8 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged over 3.7 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 6.9 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 5.2 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.


US crude oil production was up 121000 barrels per day to 6.984 million bpd. Just short of 7 million bpd.

Still one more full week to report for 2012. Seems pretty likely that last week will break 7.0 million bpd of crude oil.

The ASPO better have some meetings about projections.

From: Peak oil group presses EIA to temper optimistic crude outlook

The peak oil viewpoint has been challenged in recent years as new technology has allowed the tapping of tight oil in shale formations in the US as well as oil sands in Canada. The most optimistic forecasts suggest that US crude production will continue to grow and that North America could become energy independent sometime in the next decade or so. That view led influential Citibank energy analyst Ed Morse to recently proclaim that "peak oil is dead."

One has to wonder how someone who is touted as a top energy analyst at a major financial institution such as Citibank can display such apparent ignorance of basic physics and the laws of thermodynamics. How he can disregard any and all available geologic data related to discovery of new fields and production decline rates in existing ones, fracking technology notwithstanding. If westexas' hunch is correct and less than 1% of the population understands the Export Land Model, I'll at least cut him some slack there.

However, not even he can ignore the consequences of continued growth vs finite resource limits! Even if 'Peak Oil' has not yet been reached, it borders on the absurd to claim that the concept itself is dead. I find it akin to claiming we have finally and conclusively disproved the theory of gravity because the airplane we are flying in still has half a tank of fuel, so therefore we can head out over uncharted waters for a destination that normally would require a full tank.

I personally think it is highly improbable that Mr. Morse is indeed really ignorant of such matters and therefore the only option is to conclude that his salary must heavily depend on his pushing this false picture of US Energy Independence being just around the corner! Obviously it benefits him and Citibank directly. Hopefully these people will one day be held accountable for their shameful shenanigans! While Mr. Morse, well aware that the law of gravity is still fully in effect, has his parachute on, unfortunately the other passengers on his plane do not.

The Captain, wishes everyone aboard, a very pleasant flight, please fasten your seat belts and prepare for take off... note, that the emergency flotation devices under your seats, have been removed for your convenience and you can now stash more carry ons in that space!

A reminder to everyone that you can utilize our patented BST (bull s**t translator) on the quote above to render it sensical.

s/new technology has/higher prices have/g

Et voilà:

The peak oil viewpoint has been challenged in recent years as higher prices have allowed the tapping of tight oil in shale formations in the US as well as oil sands in Canada.


Agreed. But not sure how readable Unix sed syntax is for the general populace. Maybe more than I realize :)

PS s/ means substitute; /g means globally

Well, TOD readers are not a representative group of the general population, but I would imagine that almost everyone here gets it, even if they've never used sed.

One has to wonder how someone who is touted as a top energy analyst at a major financial institution such as Citibank can display such apparent ignorance of basic physics and the laws of thermodynamics.

It's all about positioning your business. "Peak Oil is dead" is really just code for "We at Citi believe there are a lot of great projects out there to finance and, if you happen to have one, please come to us because we want to lend."

Steve - "We at Citi believe there are a lot of great projects out there to finance and, if you happen to have one, please come to us because we want to lend." Not saying Citi isn't working their own angle but it ain't pitching a softball to energy companies in need of a loan IMHO. I've dealt with the professional money lenders like Citi for much of my career and in general they don't finance crap. In fact it's not easy to get them to write a check for a reasonable project. The bankers and their third party consultants are some of the savviest hands out there. You can clearly prove 2+2 = 4 but they'll typically only give you credit for 3. LOL.

I doubt any top management of the energy finance arm of every major bank doesn't understand PO and all its implication clearly. But that obviously doesn't mean it benefits them to share their view with the public. I agree with you that they are painting a rosy path to lure someone down. These days many of the banks have their own investment portfolios. Part of the answer may be no more complex then pump and dump. Given the recent slide in oil prices and the prospect of that holding or even dropping some more if they timed it right and started dumping recently they may have made a killing on those investments. Investments they may buy back into when they perceive a bottom reached.

There are always a fair number of folks who don't understand the dynamics of the oil patch and how it varies over time. Folks easy sucked in by proclamations from the "experts". I've never met one bank engineer who didn't understand that dynamic and as a result had a very conservative view.

Rockman--found yr reply re economics NG Cogen for stranded gas. Thanks. GE's 1+ MW units look tiny after my modest familiarity w the humungous plant etc needed for NucPPs.

Edit-- Ouch. Found my errors. I wrote 1MW but meant 1000MW[1GW] v. San Onofre's 1200MW units. Then another error...just checked and apparently GE's 2 units Comb Cycle at Riverside together [not each] are rated less than 800MW.

"We at Citi believe there are a lot of great projects out there to finance and, if you happen to have one, please come to us because we want to lend."

Well, if investors loosen their purse strings and shovel some money into non-conventional sources that are too expensive to be justified by market forces they still get to make lots of loans from all the activity it generates.

To me it isn't even about physics or thermodynamics, just plain high school or beginning college level maths.

But the title is just a catch phrase there, although this Ed Morse can also possibly not have the basic required math level to get it, in fact doesn't matter at all at that point, and his job in this article is more or less to bring investment in the extraction industry, so he is doing it.

Strange times ...

I find this logic very peculiar, the logic that decides that since something has not happened yet, it's NEVER going to happen. What is the basis for it?

I find Mr. Morse's situation more akin to getting a vehicle with a full tank of fuel but no fuel gauge and only rough estimates of the fuel tank size and fuel consumption. The vehicle is driven around for a while in ways that would normally increase the fuel consumption but does not run out of fuel. Mr. Morse's logic dictates that said vehicle could be driven around forever since, it would never run out of fuel.

Alan from the islands

Very good! This one works with friends who, despite all my evidence, seem happy with gobbling fuel at any rate whatever-- but, at the same time, are fanatical about keeping that fuel gage way up for fear of running out.

They would NEVER drive a car without a fuel gage, like that old bug I used to drive which would go until it started to stagger from starvation, at which time I flipped the lever over to reserve, certain of a few more miles- which had better have a gas station in them somewhere.

But they are happy driving a planet in that fix.

This idea has shown up time to time on TOD

While the concept of a new currency backed by food seems far-fetched, the fact that reliance upon oil in the world is waning at the same time the need for food and new food sources is increasing. Humanity can find alternative sources of energy as they have for thousands of years, but the body cannot sustain itself without food for a very long period of time. Thus controlling food and the means to buy and sell it through a digital currency, is not only a potential for the future, it is already being done on a smaller scale for a large portion of Americans.

Whether food or energy, I have never been able to understand the concept of a currency "backed" by a consumable item. If you have gold in a vault, then people who believe that you really do, and also believe that gold has a durable value, will tend to assign value to your paper money. But future food is only a promise, thus your currency will have the full value of, a promise? Like the Greek pension promises?

"I promise to pay the bearer on demand a hill of beans."

Whether food or energy, I have never been able to understand the concept of a currency "backed" by a consumable item.

And explaining such is far beyond the scope of TOD to explain. "Austrian Economics" I believe would have the followers who'd spend the most time on such an education effort with you, if you choose to try to understand. http://mises.org

If you have gold in a vault, then people who believe that you really do, and also believe that gold has a durable value, will tend to assign value to your paper money

And that is what happened years ago. 'Till the people who held onto the Gold figured out they could issue more paper than what existed and with that "printed money".

If the money "has no backing" the historical trend is to go to a printing press and just print up a bunch of the money to pay the bills. The idea of backing is supposed to restrain a press. See the American Continental as an example.

US household debt burden hits 29-year low

WASHINGTON -- A measure of the burden of U.S. household debt tumbled in the third quarter to its lowest level in 29 years, which should help free up money for consumer spending and support the economy.

I guess it's good news and bad news:

While a lightening of household debt burden puts the recovery on firmer ground, it also highlights a hesitance to take on new debt, which could be an obstacle to spending.

Not to worry, if we don't take on "enough" debt then the government does it "for" us. More than $3billion per day. Which it then spends. Mostly on military stuff and interest on prior debt. Not sure whether that helps the "recovery".


Interest rates on government debt are at very low rates, government spending will help the economy grow, it doesn't matter much what the money is spent on. Military spending from 1939 to 1945 got us out of the Great Depression. Unfortunately military spending is pretty much the only kind of government spending approved by some political parties in the United States. The money could also be spent by the government on education, research, and infrastructure (HVDC grid and rail would be my choice), but in the USA and most other advanced economies, we have forgotten the economics we knew 60 years ago.


"....government spending will help the economy grow, it doesn't matter much what the money is spent on."

This statement could not be more wrong.

Many studies have shown that transit infrastructure projects produce 2 to 3 times the number of full time jobs than military spending does. And after the transit system is built the taxpayers have something they can use. I spent almost five years with a military contractor and cannot say anything I helped design and build had much public benefit. The fighter planes I designed were meant to destroy those that the US gov. saw as enemies. And most of those employed by the company did not come from the unemployment lines.

Furthermore, three friends that have recently left military service (Army and Navy) told me many stories about wasteful military operations in US and Afghanistan, such as casting off useful items, throwing material away because it was too much trouble to return to stock and intentional breakage of equipment. Likewise, this past summer our company helped a military contractor scrap over a million dollars of surplus navy components (all new parts and assemblies, never used) for a total recovered value of less than $5,000. So, the military spent $1.00, got no use of the material and recieved less than $0.01 back. Military spending is one of the worst ways to create economic activity.

Dr Chris explained it so well in Chapter 10 - Inflation
"War is inflationary"
Renewable infrastructure that pays for itself is a much better investment.
Hey, maybe they should try it for a change.. ;-)

That is why I welcome the cliff.

"While a lightening of household debt burden puts the recovery on firmer ground, it also highlights a hesitance to take on new debt, which could be an obstacle to spending."

There is an understatement. I need to be saving for retirement, even more so since they are going to cut the CPI used to index Social Security. I'm not going to be spending anything on pointless consumption just to make GDP climb.

It's all about "The Gospel of consumption" the plan has had an 80 yr run http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/2962/

Denninger's take on this

2012 In Review, And 2013's Look Forward

ZIRP has also taken roughly three whole percent out of the term cost of borrowing at the longer end for mortgages. This sounds good but it is in fact bad. The short-term impact of this refinancing "boom" has put another $200-300 monthly into the average mortgage-carrying household's pocket but the purchasing power destruction that has come with it took that money back out of the common man's pocket and handed it over to the grocer and gas station!

Then the true insult comes -- another $200+ a month or more is added to your health insurance costs and you become severely net-negative in purchasing power. Worse, your housese's "value" has been pinned at the top of the possible range by these suppressed rates, and when rates rise you will be instantly screwed as the imputed value loss of just a 2% rise in 30 year money would whack 21% off your home's price overnight should you need -- or want -- to sell.

Reality is that when government organs intentionally put distortions like this in place it never ends well because those distortions are also subject to the inexorable reality of exponents. The longer "extraordinary measures" are continued the worse the adjustment is when it comes back out, and it always must eventually come back out.

For those of you who believe I'm indefatigable I assure you that I am not Superman in mind, spirit or body. There will come a day when like Mother on the Nostromo I will declare "The option to cancel self-destruct has expired." Those who think I don't spend neural energy on this are wrong; I in fact contemplate whether I believe we have reached that point on a literal daily basis.

Now that the debt burden has lowered, it is a perfect time to get that sucker back up again by buying as much crap as possible from the big box stores. Which is it? Is debt good or bad? Schizoeconomics in action.

A measure of the burden of U.S. household debt tumbled in the third quarter to its lowest level in 29 years

Is that because a whole lot of people went into foreclosure on their home loans, reducing U.S. household debt? I'm not sure that will free up very much money, especially in light of a massive reduction in equity loans.

Although the overall Why? is unknown, the behavior itself is excellent. The only good reason I can see for taking on debt is to increase resiliancy and then as quickly as possible repay the debt. The increased resiliancy lessens both short- and long-term expenditures, which either reduces the need for income, increases savings, or both. Increasing household debt only serves to provide more income to very undeserving Banksters and ilk. Long gone are the days when it could be honestly stated that increasing debt boosted the national economy by supporting jobs.

I posted my observations from the past year of US dry shale gas production over on my blog. Primarily noting the big drop in YoY production growth.


It's back of the envelop calculations but would enjoy hearing any feedback or thoughts on it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Interesting. A pretty decent correlation between price and rig count, which would make sense. I hear there are a lot of 'spudded' wells that could be brought on at lower incremental cost than a full new rig, if prices moved into the $4 range. We'll see how that plays out.

A minor nit:

The Henry Hub spot price for natural gas bottomed out at around $1.90 per MMBtu (million British thermal units) in June of 2012.

It looks like it bottomed out sometime in March at the <$2 level....

Thanks for the feedback. I have corrected the date of the low to March.

Interview: What does the future hold for energy and lighting?

As 2012 comes to a close, scientists and engineers are looking forward to molding the future, starting with the work they do in their own labs. Phys.org has interviewed a few of today's leading researchers in the areas of energy and lighting, and asked them what they're most excited about in their fields in the years to come

Unilever to phase out 'microplastics' by 2015

... Many soaps, skin scrubs and shower gels contain microplastics, which are tiny polyethelene beads. Scientists and environmental groups are concerned that they contribute to polluting oceans.

The company said Thursday that it has "decided to phase out the use of plastic micro beads as a 'scrub' material in all of our personal care products" by 2015.

Sandia National Laboratories Building Centers across Country to Help Solar Firms Test Hardware

One of the National Security Administration's three national laboratories is building regional testing centers around the country to field-test hardware for solar companies before their multimillion-dollar solar systems are installed in buildings.

The Sandia National Laboratory is building test centers in Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., and Burlington, Vt., the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Sandia will install detailed weather stations at testing centers, as well as measuring and monitoring equipment such as simulators, performance curve tracers and infrared and digital cameras, Granata said. Select companies will then set up their own systems of between 10 and 300 kilowatts on site.

“Industry partners will be responsible for the cost of their own systems,” Granata said. “The DOE will provide the test infrastructure, labor and expertise to do all the assessment work.”

LNG Exports Iffy....

"Energy journalist" is an oxymoron. Or maybe just "moron" will suffice.

Here we have this in the Christian Science Monitor: "However, just because the DOE approves LNG terminals does not mean that a boom in LNG exports will necessarily follow. A recent report commissioned by the DOE actually predicts that there will be very few exports, unless there is a major increase in demand from Asia and no new production in Europe. This scenario would cause prices to increase by $1.09 per thousand cubic feet and the United States would export about 8.4 trillion cubic feet of gas."

8.4 trillion cubic feet!? My god, that's 150% of Canadian production, or more natural gas than the Texans produce, god bless them.

I will pull a Mitt Romney here, and bet you $10,000 that if we were to export 8.4 trillion cubic feet a year, or 23 bcf per day, that natural gas prices
will increase a *hell* of a lot more than $1.09.

After chasing down the references, I don't think this journalist is a moron. They are accurately reporting on a recent DOE study. Here is the trail:

The LNG exports still iffy, even if they win approval article quoted above contains a link to a DOE funded report. That report is part of larger study conducted by the DOE and available here:

Energy Department Releases Study on Natural Gas Exports, Invites Public Comment

The comment period is open until January 24, 2013 and I would encourage anyone interested to read the documents and submit a comment. There are two components to the study requested by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy (DOE/FE).

The first is an EIA report:

This report responds to an August 2011 request from the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (DOE/FE) for an analysis of “the impact of increased domestic natural gas demand, as exports.” Appendix A provides a copy of the DOE/FE request letter. Specifically, DOE/FE asked the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to assess how specified scenarios of increased natural gas exports could affect domestic energy markets, focusing on consumption, production, and prices.

DOE/FE provided four scenarios of export-related increases in natural gas demand (Figure 1) to be considered:

  • 6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), phased in at a rate of 1 Bcf/d per year (low/slow scenario),
  • 6 Bcf/d phased in at a rate of 3 Bcf/d per year (low/rapid scenario),
  • 12 Bcf/d phased in at a rate of 1 Bcf/d per year (high/slow scenario), and
  • 12 Bcf/d phased in at a rate of 3 Bcf/d per year (high/rapid scenario).

Total marketed natural gas production in 2011 was about 66 Bcf/d. The two ultimate levels of increased natural gas demand due to additional exports in the DOE/FE scenarios represent roughly 9 percent or 18 percent of current production.

So the DOE handed these four scenarios to the EIA. Please also read the preface to this report which includes:

The projections in this report are not statements of what will happen but of what might happen, given the assumptions and methodologies used.

The second component of the study is an economic study by NERA consulting using their NewERA energy-economy model. (They actually call it a "new era" model? You can't make this stuff up!)

At the request of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy (“DOE/FE”), NERA Economic Consulting assessed the potential macroeconomic impact of liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) exports using its energy-economy model (the “NewERA” model). NERA built on the earlier U.S. Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) study requested by DOE/FE by calibrating its U.S. natural gas supply model to the results of the study by EIA. The EIA study was limited to the relationship between export levels and domestic prices without considering whether or not those quantities of exports could be sold at high enough world prices to support the calculated domestic prices. The EIA study did not evaluate macroeconomic impacts.

NERA’s Global Natural Gas Model (“GNGM”) was used to estimate expected levels of U.S. LNG exports under several scenarios for global natural gas supply and demand.

NERA’s NewERA energy-economy model was used to determine the U.S. macroeconomic impacts resulting from those LNG exports.

Figure 6. on page 11 contains prices and export levels for the year 2035 for 16 different scenarios. Export levels range from zero to 8.4 Tcf. The 8.4 Tcf scenario is:

  • High Estimated Ultimate Recovery in US gas plays (from EIA report)
  • international Supply/Demand shock
  • no export constraints

I haven't read the whole report but I thought I saw that their model takes into account some shift of power generation to coal as LNG exports increase. That 8.4 Tcf number may sound outrageous but is not entirely implausible under this one specific scenario.

So the Christian Science Monitor quote is actually pretty much right on. The only thing I would have changed would be to add the year of the prediction: "export about 8.4 trillion cubic feet of gas by 2035."

Again, I would encourage anyone who has a problem with the details of these studies to submit comments to the DOE at the link above.



Jon - Thanks for the detailed analysis. I'm too lazy/short on time to dig that deep myself. As you point they say they can't predict what will happen but what "might happen". "Might happen"...a chicken sh*t cover my butt approach IMHO. LOL.

But such models always amaze when you dig into their future pricing model. Projecting scenarios 10, 15 and 20 years out there as if any price projection can be considered realistic. I won't waste the space and re-post but recently I offered the price volatility of NG during just the last 10 years. Increases of 400% and collapse of 60% in just a few years...sometimes in as little as 12 months. $billions spent on build LNG import terminals like Chenier and then see them retool to export LNG several years later. If they want me to take them seriously they need to show me how accurately they predicted the volatility that just washed over us repeated in the last decade. Without that I would just as soon believe a random number generator as anything these "experts" predict. LOL.


Thanks for going deeper than I did.

But we need energy journalists to think intelligently about some of this stuff
and not just report "the model said." This study, ditto Margueri.

Actually, what we need are investigative energy journalists.

Anyone who thinks we can export 1/3rd of this year's total US gas production
without lifting nat gas prices more than $1.09... I mean, it just defies belief.

Spreadsheet models, indeed models in general, are as dangerous as they are

But simply to report these model results without placing them in context does the
reader a disservice.

rudall - "...I mean, it just defies belief." And there's the real problem IMHO: it's believable for those desperate to not believe the future some are predicting. A simple question one could toss back at them regarding that $1.09/mcf increase they model: does your same model capture the late 2008 NG price that was more than $8/mcf higher than current prices? And this was at a time when the emphasis was on importing LNG...not exporting it. As you say: context matters.


Yes, a little "back casting" of these energy models is long overdue.

One really important question is why energy forecasting, over the past 30 years, has been so
abysmal, and not just by the EIA.

I don't know the answer, and I would like to hear from anyone who can proffer an explanation.


In this CSM story, to be fair to the reporter, one issue that Matt Simmons and others have flagged: these weird friggin
energy units. 8.4 trillion c/feet a year, I mean what does that signify?

Let us picture 7 LNG tankers leaving US ports each day, carrying what is today the *total* output of
the Barnett, Haynesville, Marcellus, Woodford, and Fayetteville shale gas plays. That's 8.4 trillion c/f.

But still how much energy is this?

Anyone who thinks the US is going to be in a position in 2035 to be exporting the gas equivalent of nearly 4 million barrels
a day of oil...., in a year when our population will be 350 million and still rising, please raise your hand.

I think this article and the study it references feeds The Paradise Spell, David Brook's term for the mythical land in which Americans live (or used to), where you drive a tugboat to the mall, fill it with gifts, and live happily ever after.

Tipping Points in Earth Climate System - 2012 Arctic Methane Special

... A 3% negative shift of d13Ccarb values occurred globally at the end of the Permian. A coincidental 3% negative shift observed in d13C of marine bulk carbonate (supported by d13C of brachiopod shell) and all organic matter just before, during and after the end-Permian mass extinction confirms that the significant light carbon release occurred *13 ka before, *5 ka during and *13 ka after the extinction event. Source

Current negative δ13C anomaly = 0.3% [10% of the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event]

Mass extinctions are often marked by a negative δ13C anomaly thought to represent a decrease in primary productivity and release of plant-based carbon. Wikipedia

Unfortunately I couldn't get the video link in the article to work, but would like to have seen it. The real tale of the tape in my opinion in regards to methane releasing will be when all the ice melts in the Arctic. Thereafter we get into a situation where it will melt at earlier dates each summer, transferring a much greater amount of heat into the water, causing more methane to release. I figure when that gets going gangbusters is when geoengineering attempts will be made. One being floated that seems like it could possibly work is to have a sunshield at the Lagrange (the gravitational midpoint between the Sun and Earth) but just over the Arctic. Of course something like that would take several years to construct and deploy.

The Arctic Circle is unusual in that it is a line of latitude that consists mostly of land (about 75% land by eyeball). So a ring of land-based structures on the Arctic Circle like tall mirrors slanted to deflect low-angle sunlight vertically upwards might be just as effective and cheaper to build and maintain than a space-based system.

Ah, a lot cheaper/easier to cover 1/4 of Nevada & part of Mongolia w/ solar panels then stop burning coal and leaking methane.

But that changes the flow of money. The owners of the coal would not like it one bit.

The Lagrange point stuff is pure sci-fi. Also at that distance the "shadow" cast by an obstruction is larger than the diameter of the earth. No way to effectively aim it. Mirrors would be extraordinarily expensive. Slapping paint on rocks, and deliberately altering vegetation in favor of vegetation with a higher albedo would be many times cheaper and less obstrusive -but still a massive undertaking. So we get left with the poor world's alternative, stratospheric sulphate injection.

Can someone explain the units on the vertical scale of the NOAA graph to me?

δ13C CH4 (per mil)

δ is change but relative to what?

13C is an isotope of carbon with 7 neutrons

CH4 is methane (what does it mean when multiplied by carbon?)

(per mil) is per 1/1000 of an inch? Since it is a measurement of gas, maybe it should be "per mol".

I can not make sense of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%9413C :

In geochemistry, paleoclimatology and paleoceanography δ13C is an isotopic signature, a measure of the ratio of stable isotopes 13C:12C, reported in parts per thousand (per mil, ‰).

"δ13C(CH4)" and "δ13C-CH4" mean the ratio, the isotopic signature, for the carbon atoms in the methane molecules.


Methane sources in gas hydrate-bearing cold seeps: Evidence from radiocarbon and
stable isotopes


I understand now. Thank-you.

Disease Burden Links Ecology to Economic Growth

The team was intrigued by the fact that tropical countries are generally comprised of poor agrarian populations while countries in temperate regions are wealthier and more industrialized. This distribution of income is inversely related to the burden of disease, which peaks at the equator and falls along a latitudinal gradient. Although it is common to conclude that economics drives the pattern of disease, the authors point out that most of the diseases that afflict the poor spend much of their life-cycle outside the human host. Many cannot even survive outside the tropics. Their distribution is largely determined by ecological factors, such as temperature, rainfall, and soil quality.

The results of the analysis suggest that infectious disease has as powerful an effect on a nation's economic health as governance, say the authors. "The main asset of the poor is their own labor," says Dr Bonds. "Infectious diseases, which are regulated by the environment, systematically steal human resources. Economically speaking, the effect is similar to that of crime or government corruption on undermining economic growth."

Our future tropical climate regime will be moving into, what was once temperate zones. This will be another drag on economic growth.

Botswana has the quality of governance, internal peace, and natural resources to be a First World nation. Unfortunately, AIDS afflicts a quarter of the country. There but for the grace...

Got this from Ran Prieur
How to Solve Homelessness

As a homeless person, I do not want someone to feed me. I do not want someone to house me. I do not want a blanket, and I will not work for food! You have to ask me what it is I need if you want to have an effect. As a homeless person, I am not even trying to find a way out of homelessness. It is too simple to say that I was going just fine until someone took my shelter away, and now I am in chaos. If only someone would give me back my shelter the chaos would abate. Nonsense. I'm not in chaos. I have a definable set of problems and giving me shelter won't solve them. It is only a tiny piece. Furthermore, I don't want a cure for my life. Most people who write to me who are homeless chose homelessness. Homelessness was their answer to another problem, a foreclosed home, a lost job, a catastrophic disease which left them bankrupt and disabled, an abusive family, a lack. Alas, this is the hardest thing to explain. Homelessness was a positive step toward solving other problems.

Robin, Whoopie, Billy, I love you guys. I watch your movies. I like your stand up. I could do without The View but you can't please everyone all the time. I don't expect you to solve homelessness. It doesn't need solving. People who are homeless could use some help sometimes, but you have to listen and see and think about how to offer that help. Money and laughs won't do it. You are just salving the guilt of society. Don't do that. Society needs to be uncomfortable.

I think going forward poverty needs to be made safer and poor people shouldn't be looked upon as enemies, that will only make the job of adapting to PO that much harder.

I could do without The View

Hmm, how does a homeless person watch 'The View'? How was the information above transmitted - by computer? I'm wondering if that was a homeless person or someone philosophising as if they were one.

Most people who write to me who are homeless chose homelessness.

Uh, is he really certain about that? It's easy once a situation falls apart to claim it was a choice because that makes it sound like they're smarter than they really are. No, believe me it was forced upon them in one manner or another and then maybe they got use to it, but they never chose it. That's like someone chose to go to jail, or decided to go belly up financially because they chose to go bankrupt, or they dumped their beautiful girlfriend to choose to go out with the not so great one next door. No, people choose good stuff, and the bad stuff doesn't get chosen--it just happens for a number of reasons they'd like to forget.

"Hmm, how does a homeless person watch 'The View'? How was the information above transmitted - by computer? I'm wondering if that was a homeless person or someone philosophising as if they were one."

There have been regular commenters on TOD who were essentially homeless,, "Fleam" (sp?) comes to mind. She dropped off the map a while back. Some others lived in their cars or RVs. At some points in my life 'home' was where my pack or RV was... spent a lot of time in libraries, etc.

Nowdays, a crappy laptop could be a homeless person's closest friend.

Your assumptions reveal a lot of reasons why those blogposts can be very illuminating about the realities of homelessness.

'American Dalits' come from a number of streams, and what we think will be helpful or encouraging to them might miss the mark entirely.

"No, believe me it was forced upon them in one manner or another and then maybe they got use to it, but they never chose it."

No, I don't believe you, though I do believe you're saying this with sincere belief.

"No, believe me it was forced upon them in one manner or another and then maybe they got use to it, but they never chose it."

No, I don't believe you, though I do believe you're saying this with sincere belief.

Why would someone choose to be homeless? Right now it's 39F outside and 62F in. That's a 23F advantage just be being indoors. When it's 105F in the summer it's 78F in the house and 73F downstairs. That's a 32F advantage. Running water, electricity, shelter from the wind, and so on. Why would someone choose a less comfortable existence? It's got to be something that happens for a variety of reasons, but certainly its not something someone chooses. I can't catch up to that idea.

I recently got the flu and spent a couple days in bed recouping, building immunity. Might have been the flu shot a week earlier that dinged my immune system making me suseptible to a virus. Anyway, can't conceive of what that would have been like if homeless in the middle of winter. Yikes! Give me a heated water bed with a down comforter, the remote control, some orange juice and lots of quiet so I can sleep and get better fast to go back to making money to make sure there's a roof over our head.

I guess a certain section of the population is bound to be like Christopher McCandless or at least some modified version of him, so it's not incomprehensible that they might choose homelessness and not all places go to 39F in winter. The author does raise some important points.

There are compensations to being homeless. You give up your creature comforts, but you also give up responsibilities and obligations. There's not so much pressure to produce and to conform.

That said, I don't think homeless people live very long. My guess would be about ten years from time of dropping out to death.

This is starkly visible when you compare Israel and the West Bank. Israel, like other developed countries, has homeless people living under bridges and such. The West Bank, despite being much poorer, does not. Families simply do not allow their own to be homeless.

The drawback is the network of obligations and pressure to conform that goes along with such families ties. It would be hell on earth for people like ty454, who can't stand his parents or in-laws.

People make bad choices for lots of reasons, one of which is lack of self esteem or serious depression. If they are going to go down, they choose to go really down. Your experience is clearly different than mine.

There are different types of homelessness. However, I think most people's view of the homeless as mostly "homeless by choice" is much more poisonous than Peak Earl's view that the homeless have it forced on them - though both views are incomplete, in light of each homeless person having their own circumstance. Most purveyors of the "homeless by choice" claim are comparatively very well off and are using it to assauge their guilt.

I say this partly because "housing first" homeless programs are having much more success than the former model of temporary shelters with strict rules and mandatory treatment. Funny thing, reading the linked article, he basically proposes the same thing! I'm pretty sure we can solve homelessness for most very easily - by giving them homes (without moralizing or equivocating or demanding that they "earn" it). After that, it is no longer a homelessness problem but a health, employment, or whatever problem.

There are some among the chronic homeless (which itself is just a small set of the total homeless) who may be like the guy in New York who was given the boots (and turned out to have an apartment of some sort), who are on the street for their own reasons. But I think most homelessness is just simply that - lack of housing. But if you're charging people who ain't got nuthin', or waking them up at 5 am and pushing them out till 4 pm, or telling them they have to take care of their drug problem before they "deserve" housing, well, you aren't going to get far in fixing homelessness.

Perhaps we should be asking why it became normal that we spend most or our money and time just getting shelter?

Perhaps we should be asking why it became normal that we spend most or our money and time just getting shelter?

A king chooses who dies in his kingdom. Our culture chooses who is allowed to survive.

There is no cooperative village coming together to build reasonable shelters for its members. Here, you have to buy the land. The shelter must meet code. The taxes must be paid. Perhaps the homeowner's association has to be kept happy. All this and more -or- the equivalent rent must be paid. Putting up a simple dwelling on a found plot of land convenient to everyday intercourse and living rough will draw the sheriff and the bulldozers. It is like we are all forced to fly high-up in airplanes... and it's a long way down. This is the power, this is the terror. In Africa, how do you get free people to, say, go down in the mines and work: You impose a dog tax and a hut tax that can only be paid in money. If you don't pay the tax, they kill your dog and destroy your hut. Work in the mines is paid in money. The fear of homelessness keeps everyone in line. Every person sleeping in a doorway is a stern warning to the rest: Cooperate with the system. Conform. Pay your insurance. Maintain your 401K. Hope the insurance and the 401K actually mean anything...


"With the discovery of diamonds and gold in South Africa, the Rhodes-Oppenheimer-Rothschild operation needed miners to work for pittance. With the potential workforce living off the land, not interested in mining, they needed to force them into working for them. One way was to introduce taxes for anything they could think of — a poll tax, hut tax, even a dog tax — and because they lived a cashless life of self-sufficiency, they could not pay these taxes. This forced the men to leave their families to walk hundreds miles to work in the mines in horrendous conditions and sign contracts that could not be broken.

Former De Beers employee, Gordon Brown described the scene, "When I arrived in the mine in 1968, I was quite appalled by the conditions for the migrant labourers. The working hours were a long 60-hour week.The conditions under which they worked - they were out in the open, very little protection against the cold and the wind. They weren't given much to eat. They were given half a loaf of brown bread and a flask of cold tea to last them throughout that 10-hour shift. Conditions in the hostels were not much better. There were no decent dining facilities. They had to eat in their rooms out of aluminium buckets. There was no real privacy. The hostels themselves were not very nice places to be in - single-sex hostels, 20 people to a room, in some instances.""

...how austere

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/programs/transcripts/1209.html :
Particularly after they discovered the diamond mines, what they were looking for was to try and create a workforce for those mines. And the problem was that they needed unskilled workers, but the problem was that most of the available potential labor force were black people living on the land. And in order to get them into the mines, they had to find ways of forcing them off the land. And one of the mechanisms they adopted was passing various taxes, such as a poll tax, hut tax, even a dog tax, which forced people living on the land to pay cash to the government and they didn't have cash because they were not part of a cash economy. So they therefore had to go into the mines to earn the money to pay the taxes.

...so, instead of culture and society, we have money.


I have largely walked away from the imposed culture of 401ks, insurance and the like. So far, it's working.

There is no cooperative village coming together to build reasonable shelters for its members. Here, you have to buy the land. The shelter must meet code. The taxes must be paid. Perhaps the homeowner's association has to be kept happy. All this and more -or- the equivalent rent must be paid. Putting up a simple dwelling on a found plot of land convenient to everyday intercourse and living rough will draw the sheriff and the bulldozers.

Have just started reading this: http://www.newsociety.com/Books/T/Tales-from-the-Sustainable-Underground , which addresses these very issues. So far, it's an entertaining and informative read.

Full disclosure - the author is a friend of mine, the founder of the Powerdown group where I first really dug into PO with others.

"Carbon Taxes Make Ireland Even Greener"

While it is true that Irish oil consumption has dropped from a high of about 230k barrels a day in 2006 to about 130k last year, most of that can be directly attributed to the collapse in the construction sector. As for small cars, with the exception of the boom years when SUVs and the like became fasionable, small cars were the norm, we've just reverted back to that. A lasting legacy of the "celtic Tiger" years is the construction of a large number of McMansions all over the countryside and these are mainly built to minimum insulation standards, which will mean that they'll be a millstone for the owners for years to come as heating costs continue to rise (relative to income).


The extra taxation is just going to repay the debts taken on to bailout the banks, rather than be put forward to "green" projects.

U.S. Army Doctrine Publication: Defense Support of Civil Authorities

In March 2011, The President of the United States signed Presidential Policy Directive 8, to strengthen “the security and resilience of the United States through systematic preparation for the threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation, including acts of terrorism, cyber attacks, pandemics, and catastrophic natural disasters.”

... Domestic operations are operations in the homeland: The physical region that includes the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, United States possessions and territories, and surrounding territorial waters and airspace (JP 3-28). Domestic operations are constrained by various laws to a greater degree, in comparison to the Law of Land Warfare and The Hague and Geneva Conventions. It is accurate to say that most tasks performed in domestic support are common to overseas operations; however, Soldiers conduct them under very different conditions.

Wood-burning sets off pollution alarm bells in Athens

Air pollution in Athens has surged in recent days because of people choosing wood over more expensive fuels to heat their homes in the grips of a continuing economic crisis, the environment ministry said Friday.

"This polluting cloud is the result of the combination of a lack of wind and the burning of wood, which is more prevalent than usual because of the high price of domestic heating fuel," Gerassopoulos told AFP.

The economic crisis stalking Greece since 2010 initially caused pollution to dip because of a drop in automobile traffic.

FuturICT, is a real-life SimCity on a global scale. It will give individuals, companies and governments real-time information about the planet, and run simulations to find the best strategies for dealing with issues such as climate change.

FuturICT Knowledge Accelerator

With our knowledge of the universe, we have sent men to the moon. We know microscopic details of objects around us and within us. And yet we know relatively little about how our society works and how it reacts to changes brought upon it. Humankind is now facing serious crises for which we must develop new ways to tackle the global challenges of humanity in the 21st century. With connectivity between people rapidly increasing, we are now able to exploit information and communication technologies to achieve major breakthroughs that go beyond the step-wise improvements in other areas.

It is thus timely to create an ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Flagship to explore social life on Earth, and everything it relates to, in the same way that we have spent the last century or more understanding our physical world. This proposal sketches out visionary scientific endeavours, forming an ambitious concept that allows us to answer a whole range of challenging questions. Integrating the European engineering, natural, and social science communities, this proposal will release a huge potential.

The need of a socio-economic knowledge collider was first pointed out in the OECD Global Science Forum on Applications of Complexity Science for Public Policy in Erice from October 5 to 7, 2008. Since then, many scientists have called for a large-scale ICT-based research initiative on techno-social-economic-environmental issues, sometimes phrased as a Manhattan-, Apollo-, or CERN-like project to study the way our living planet works in a social dimension. Due to the connotations, we use the term knowledge accelerator, here. An organizational concept for the establishment of a knowledge accelerator is currently being sketched within the EU Support Action VISIONEER, see www.visioneer.ethz.ch. The EU Flagship initiative is exactly the right instrument to materialize this concept and thereby tackle the global challenges for mankind in the 21st century.

Project Summaries

Download: FuturICT FET Flagship Project Summary
Download: FuturICT FET Flagship Project Outline
Download: FuturICT FET Flagship Project Impact


Download: Living Earth Simulator Platform
Download: Global Participatory Platform
Download: Planetary Nervous System Platform
Download: Innovation Accelerator Platform

High Level Concepts

Download: Resilience


Download: Energy
Download: Networks and Communication
Download: Economics
Download: Crime and Corruption
Download: Migration
Download: Health
Download: Crisis Management

The European Physical Journal Special Topics (EPJST Special Issue)

Download: EPJST 214 pg 5-9 (2012): Introduction: The FuturICT knowledge accelerator towards a more resilient and sustainable future
Download: EPJST 214 pg 49-75 (2012): A planetary nervous system for social mining and collective awareness
Download: EPJST 214 pg 77-108 (2012): Towards a living earth simulator
Download: EPJST 214 pg 109-152 (2012): Towards a global participatory platform: Democratising open data, complexity science and collective intelligence
Download: EPJST 214 pg 245-271 (2012): Challenges in complex systems science
Download: EPJST 214 pg 273-293 (2012): Challenges in network science: Applications to infrastructures, climate, social systems and economics
Download: EPJST 214 pg 295-324 (2012): A complex systems approach to constructing better models for managing financial markets and the economy
Download: EPJST 214 pg 361-400 (2012): An economic and financial exploratory
Download: EPJST 214 pg 481-518 (2012): Smart cities of the future
Download: EPJST 214 pg 519-545 (2012): Data and models for exploring sustainability of human well-being in global environmental change
Download: EPJST 214 pg 547-569 (2012): The emerging energy web
Download: EPJST 214 pg 571-595 (2012): Towards integrative risk management and more resilient societies

The image shows a "Crisis Observatory".

TOD is the best crisis observatory I know.

The ultimate goal of the FuturICT flagship project is to understand and manage complex, global, socially interactive systems, with a focus on sustainability and resilience. Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies probably constitutes the most pressing scientific grand challenge of our century [snip]

Call me a cynic, but I think the ultimate goal is to provide protected employment to ICT professionals who will produce pretty reports and pontificate at conferences, but accomplish nothing.

I doubt there are any hidden laws and processes underlying societies to be found that politicians don't already know about and misuse.

Man shot dead as police clash with Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia

Dec 28 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian police shot dead a Shi'ite protester in the country's oil-producing east late on Thursday, local activists said on Friday, bringing the death toll from clashes in the restive area to 12 this year.

They said police had opened fire on protesters demonstrating about the detention of people from the Qatif district, killing 18-year-old Ali al-Marar and injuring six others.

Euro crisis may lead to ‘explosion of violence’

This was the grim warning delivered by economist James Galbraith during a visit to Germany earlier this month as he described the possible effect of current austerity policies in Europe.

The dynamic has an end state for which there is a model, and that model is Yugoslavia,” Galbraith said in an interview with the online publication NachDenkSeiten. He went on to specify what he meant by that model: “A downward spiral leading to an explosion of violence.” Read the interview in English.

'Hurricane Domes' rising across Texas...


FEMA funding 75% of the costs...Looks like the attempts at adaptation are moving forward...

Perhaps FEMA should fund the following:

- Energy efficient appliances and lighting and heating/cooling units

- Improved insulation

- More PV and wind power

- A 'smarter' and multiply redundant grid

- Building inter and intra-city electric cargo and passenger rail

- buying out private land and 'improvements' along coastlines and retuning the land to something like its natural state.

- widespread contraception and women's health support

- better science, math, and vocational primary and secondary education and training

- better mental health assessments, support functions, and treatment

OK, 'nuff fantasy...back to our regularly-scheduled programming...

That hurricane dome looks like an acoustical nightmare. The dome will focus the sound and the concrete won't attenuate it, so it will bounce around a lot. With hundreds of kids inside shouting and cheering the noise would be unbearable.


Wow! What a great place to sing or play with your voice or with horns and things tuned to the space! I used to have a tunnel band of instruments for invited guests. Truth to tell, too many soft squishy bodies draped in clothes would damp the resonances too much... so I learned to limit a run to about twenty people.

Looks pretty flat around there, I wonder how it will handle flooding. Should be on an elevated mound.


"Warm glow of Berlin's 'beautiful' gas streetlights set to fade" (Story linked at top)

I'm curious as to HereInHalifax's take on outdoor lighting in general, but specifically the trend towards these super-bright white-to-blue-ish street lights 'n whatnot.

(Setting aside the idiocy of lighting roads for cars that already have headlights...)
I see like an owl at night so I'm not sure if everyone else has this problem - but those bright white lights blind me. I can see what's directly under them, but it annihilates my night vision so that I can't see what's beyond them and can't see for a moment after passing through them. All of them seem to be trending in this direction. Yet there are other lights I've seen that give off a soft yellow light - illuminates perfectly well and doesn't blind me...so why is there this trend towards the blinding white lights?

I find that the biggest problem with unlit urban roads is the fact that you have a lot of light from surrounding buildings that desensitise your eyes, thus making the road ahead appear much darker and objects on it harder to see.

The worst offenders are security lights, I pass a large number of these most days and they are aimed at the roadside perimeter fence (into the motorists eyes).

Some of the newest street lights here appear to have the light well inside the shade so that they only illuminate the road directly below them so there's little glare from them, the older type shine out in all directions.

I've never had great night vision, and as you get older, it gets worse. People lose about half their night vision every 15 years.

There are other problems. Smokers tend to have much poorer night vision than non-smokers. Weirdly, people with very good day vision sometimes have terrible night vision. ("Night myopia" is more common in young people with good vision in the daytime.)

Headlights are not enough light to drive by for many, especially when they are being periodically blinded by oncoming headlights and their night vision can't adjust, and they can't use highbeams. In the northeast, the pavement markings get scraped off by snowplows, and can be very hard to see at night. Street signs can also be very hard to read at night. By the time you're 65, you need twenty times the contrast to read a sign as you did at age 20.

I still see a lot of those yellowish lights; my issue with those is they look too much like traffic lights, meaning people sometimes don't notice the yellow light until turns red.

Thanks for the information about how night vision declines with age, I found it fascinating.

One other thing, that I *think* I've noticed is that there seems to be much less difference in intensity between today's low and highbeam headlights. These days, I often find little improvement when an oncoming driver courteously switches to his lowbeams.

IME...if you're in a car, and the other car is an SUV, you still get blinded. Their lights are so much higher off the ground that they look like highbeams even when turned down.

There are also those bluish lights some cars have. Is it Honda? Xenon lights, or some such thing. They look much brighter than regular headlights. Some people are calling for a ban, though others say people just aren't used to them so they look brighter than they are.

There are also those bluish lights some cars have. Is it Honda? Xenon lights, or some such thing. They look much brighter than regular headlights

I believe they are Xenon. And the reason they look brighter is because they are.

And rather than type up the whole metal becomes a vapor and self-fixes the filament I'll just post a link to how the bulbs fix themselves.


The really bright and bluish headlights are HID: High Intensity Discharge. Honda offers them as standard and as options on many of its cars:
"Xenon" returns "HID":

Confusion can arise because the short-arc discharge can be in xenon gas.
Here's a color chart:

The bulb:

It is an arc lamp.

They are in models of Subaru, Lincoln, Honda, Toyota, Infiniti, Accura, Nissan...

These things:

I hate them. They should be outlawed.

For urban streetscapes and pedestrian walkways, I prefer something closer to 2,700 or 3,000K; 5,000K and above is just too cold and sterile for my tastes (5,000K is great for commercial applications, but once the sun goes down it's time to shift gears). I remember walking the streets of Rome back in the mid to late '70s when they were illuminated by the soft glow of incandescent lamps and being absolutely awestruck by it's beauty; you wanted to get out and mingle with the crowds and celebrate the richness of life. Somehow, I can't imagine that happening under 5,500K.

I'm a big fan of Philips' CosmoPolis ceramic metal halide products, specifically the 3,000K version.

See: http://www.lighting.philips.com/pwc_li/main/shared/assets/downloads/PHIP... (PDF format)

If it were my call, this would be at the top of my list.


RE: S.Africa suspends Iran imports again in November

"... Western pressure to cut the shipments as part of sanctions designed to halt Tehran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons."

Western means Israel and the U.S. of course:

Only the U.S. and Israel are opposed to that nuclear free zone, Chomsky intimates, unless of course Israel gets to keep their nuclear WMD

(Epigovernment ...). This month was the month agreed to for talks concerning a Middle East nuclear weapon free zone. Iran agrees, however:

High-level talks between Israel and its Muslim neighbors regarding a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East have been canceled by the US and Israel.

A nuclear weapons-free zone has been repeatedly proposed, only to have Israel – the only state in the region with nuclear weapons – reject it in favor of maintaining this nuclear monopoly, further destabilizing the region, and keeping the threat of others’ nukes as a primary excuse for its militarism.

(AntiWar dot com). It takes genius not to see that Iran has signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty which gives any nation the right to do nuclear power plants.

Those who do not sign that treaty are not allowed to have nuclear anything.

Israel is the only nation there that has not signed the treaty, but has nuclear weapons, backed by the U.S.

Hypocrisy on steroids.

Hypocrisy on steroids

So much so few in the offending nations can even recognize it. Those who see it are accused of hating their own countries. We never notice the menacing nature of our own weapons -because we are the "good guys", and everyone with half a brain knows we would only use them for good. Only those with evil intent would see (our weapons) differently.

Thus when the 1983 near accidental warscare happened, NATO had given no thought to how their own war games would be perceived by the Russians, since anyone with half a brain "knew" we would never plan an unprovoked attack.

Bloomberg had an article recently about Irving Oil bringing Dakota and Alberta oil to its refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. (This refinery is apparently one of the few in eastern Canada that can handle heavy grades.) Some oil was coming by rail from Alberta and some was coming by pipeline to Albany and ocean barge from there. The story suggested that the Western Canadian Select oil was discounted almost $50 from Brent, which is the benchmark price for Eastern Canadian oil imports.

Does anyone have a link to a Bloomberg-like chart of WCS prices? I can find their Brent chart and a few others but not WCS.

And, does anyone have a good feel for the relative costs of shipping oil by rail tanker and by pipeline? I have seen suggestions that oil costs $10 per barrel to move by rail and $1 by pipeline. Distance matters, of course, but at that discount from Brent a "rolling pipeline" as touted by the railway companies looks like it would make sense.

Red - Hopefully RMG will chime in shortly. He usually has a good handle on those numbers. But regardless of the price differential I suspect the eastern Canadians won't see a huge savings on their retail energy costs. Just like the midwest refiners who got cheaper Canadian oil but then priced their products closer to national rates.

My favourite source for the price of Western Canadian Select or WCS is http://www.dailyoilbulletin.com/

A subscription to the Daily Oil Bulletin costs $1,325 per year plus tax, but you can look at the prices of WCS for free. If you are serious about finding or buying oil in Western Canada, of course you would need a subscription. That and a membership in the Calgary Petroleum Club, but only if you are really serious :-)

You will note there are several different prices quoted, depending on vendor and delivery point. At this point in time, WCS is trading about $57 or so, and Brent is trading at over $110, so the spread is over $50. That being the case, it would be well worth spending $20 or so in rail fare to ship WCS from Alberta to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick, which is perfectly capable of processing it. The main problem is a shortage of rail tank cars, but they are building them as fast as they can.

A pipeline would be cheaper, of course, but that is several years out. The Irving refinery is closer to Europe than to Alberta, and the original concept was to buy cheap North Sea, Middle Eastern, and Latin American oil and refine it for the US market. That plan is not going so well, but Plan B - shipping oil most of the way across North America by rail - is looking better and better.